This section covers collaborative film projects, extraordinary writing projects and extraordinary Drama projects.
I have undertaken many projects separately from my play performances.
In view of my passion about improvisation being an intense creative art form within drama, imagine my delight when I discovered a young film-maker called Mark who felt as strongly as I did about improvisation.
We first crossed paths in 1984 and soon we began working together on collaborative film/drama projects. In this we were supported by my husband Edwin Hunt.
We called ourselves Sumare productions and in the first sixteen years made twenty films including drama documentary and music videos, experimenting with different styles and genres.
Our way of working would be that I would teach Drama workshops in order to develop the storyline and characters using the technique of improvisation.
Mark would then continue my work in his direction of the actors whilst filming them. This rather unorthodox way of making a film worked.
If the improvisation had been insincere, superficial and ever changing, it would have been a nightmare in the edit suite—being impractical as well as extremely costly to re-shoot.
Drama: Mary Carr, (director, Action Arts);
A collaborative project with film-maker Mark (Acrea Media), documenting the life and memories of Kathleen, a nonagenarian, and revisiting the places of her childhood and youth.
Drama: Mary Carr (director, Action Arts);
Film-maker: Mark (Acrea Media)
A drama film made with young people 14 to 16 years in conjunction with The Burton Street Project. Their own life situations formed a background to this film.
A documentary about a respite care house for young people with disabilities. Made with the practical help from the young people themselves.
A well researched drama/documentary short about domestic abuse. Screened at the showroom Cinema Sheffield.
‘Imaginative and original writing from year 10 pupils of all abilities such as could never be achieved by sitting at a desk in a classroom’.
Comments by the English teaching staff at Parkside community School Chesterfield
I was often asked to teach creative writing workshops and, as always in my teaching began with improvised drama workshops. This work was offered to all ages and ability groups. An example is one such workshop I taught to year 10 students of all abilities at Parkside School Chesterfield.
Having developed the characters and atmosphere and storyline in this way the pupils then transferred this to written form. It should be stressed that, despite working in groups in the drama, no two pieces of written work were the same.
A group with low literacy skills did not write down their work but dictated the first and last sentence to their class teacher, who then developed this in class afterwards.
Another exciting reading project I became involved in was that of teaching a seven year old autistic boy to read. Knowing I had worked extensively with learning disabilities children, I was introduced to his family even though they lived at the other end of the country from me .
The boy and his family had been told by his mainstream school that he would never read because he was unable to grasp the concept of reading and would therefore never achieve anything. Devastating for them!!
August 2008 to January 2009
I devised my own version of a reading scheme using the Distar method of learning to read which our own daughter had successfully been taught in her own special school and combined the specific way of teaching this from the book, ‘Teach Your Baby to Read’ by Glenn Doman.
I had used the principles of the Dolan method to teach our daughter to recognise objects and to talk at the age of two so I knew it worked.
I wrote reading books to match this scheme and two months after learning the sounds he read his first book. Matthew was encouraged by this success and wanted to read more and more books.
From December 18th to January 17th Matthew read seven more new books without help or mistakes by which time he was ready to join a mainstream group.
This phenomenal success can be attributed to the way in which this particular scheme is taught and that the books do not have pictures so the child is in a position of having to read the words carefully rather than guessing at the story from repetition and pictures.
So much failure in being able to read comes from guesswork on the part of the child (‘How Children Fail’ by John Holt)
Any parents or teachers interested in my reading scheme should contact me for further information.
On this website I should like to thank most sincerely Matthew’s family and teachers who trusted me to to instigate this scheme and to follow my precise instructions as to the way it should be taught. After he had read the first book I went around the house singing, “Matthew can read, Matthew can read!!” And he could…..!
2017 to present: Formal Play Writing
I have been alerted to a gap in the market of published plays for classroom reading and so I am now adapting the plays performed in The Travelling Storyteller repertoire as scripted plays to be read by school children in the classroom — for many a first experience of seeing a script.
Another exciting project was in Derby giving workshops to young single mothers helping them create their own stories to tell to their children. Again, the method of improvisation was invaluable because whilst these young women could orally relate a story in an engaging way their low literacy skills meant that few of them could have read one story even to very young children.
… it was wonderful to see how the young mums and their children felt confident to participate.
Mandy Hatton Buddy reading co-ordinator, Read on -Write Away Derby
Morton Hall Women’s Prison
a day of drama workshops to eight women developing to performance standard individual pieces of work based on a childhood experience. Most memorable.
In August I was invited to Belfast in Northern Ireland to work on an estate at Rathcoole. This sectarian estate had many issues with the young people there and I was to work with three distinct groups: children 6 to 11 years, young people 12 to 16 years and adults with disabilities.
The project was organised by Adrian Smith Project Co-ordinator for the Synergy Centre based on the estate.
In the event the the groups joined together and developed a play performance for public presentation (as part of the funding requirements).
As I said to Adrian,
“Meeting them for the first time on Monday three days and five workshops later, a public performance, no pressure Adrian, no pressure!!”
So successful was the production that Adrian is seeking further funding so that I can go back and continue her work there.
“Mary’s work with my group has saved me three weeks of difficult and stressful teaching”
Rachel Hammond, English teacher, Year 9 and Head of Year 10.
A most memorable and exciting project for me was an engagement at Parkside Community School, Chesterfield, when I was asked to introduce Year 9 all ability English groups to their set Shakespeare play “Macbeth”.
I gave a teaching performance incorporating the acting of the main characters using some quotations from the significant speeches, interspersed with an improvised paraphrase of the storyline. This alone took a staggering 58 hours to prepare and lasted 50 mins.
After my performance the pupils took part in workshops where, in groups, they worked on different scenes from the play and gave a presentation in the afternoon in costumes which were my own.
As the pupils had no knowledge of the text beforehand they received it with a newness and enthusiasm showing a willingness to work. This was the attitude even of the groups with low literacy skills.
Afterwards all the pupils had an in-depth knowledge of the play and the lower ability groups needed only to read the set scenes before their exams because they understood them in the context of the play.
“Mary Carr is the best investment the English department has ever made.” Marilyn Harris, Head of English at Parkside Community School, Chesterfield.
An interesting and very different project came about when some students who knew about my work and methods approached me for help.
Media studies students at Humberside University were seriously struggling to present themselves well for their final presentation; some had not spoken in public since their primary school days.
I went for two full days and using my usual relaxation and improvisational techniques prepared them for this part of their final exam.
“Following Mary Carr’s workshops, [two days], every person in our group significantly increased their mark for that component in their final degree.”
Teresa Lindeyer, Graduate – Media Studies,